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DMV May Eliminate Written Exam For Licensed Drivers

Tasnim Shamma

The DMV is looking to make a few big changes this year to reduce wait times. For one, there's a proposal to eliminate the written test requirement for out-of-state residents to get a North Carolina driver's license. 

At the Charlotte DMV office on North Tryon Street, Amelia Stelmach says two things come to mind when she thinks of the DMV: long lines, long wait time.

But she's pleasantly surprised.

"When we pulled into the parking lot, we kinda groaned because the lot looked so full," Stelmach says. "But once we got inside, it was about five people."

Her 17-year-old son, Ethan, has only been waiting to get his state ID for 30 minutes and he might be leaving soon.

The DMV wants to have more happy customers like Stelmach. Currently, the average wait time is 20 to 50 minutes. To shorten the wait time, the DMV proposes to no longer require some drivers to take the driver's license exams.

For one thing, if you have a valid driver license – say from another state – or if your license has been expired for less than two years – the DMV will no longer require you to take the written test or the road test. The primary exception to the road test would be for drivers with poor driving records.

Marge Howell with North Carolina's DMV says it's just trying to be in line with other states' requirements.

"One of the things we also trying to do is to improve customer service," Howell says. "We think this will drastically improve the amount of time you will have to spend at DMV."  

The DMV is taking public comments online and has set up a special number for people to voice their thoughts. If all goes well, Howell says the changes could be in place by May 1.

Another part of the rules change is to formally adopt the 80 percent pass rate for the written exam, which DMV has used informally for the last 10 years. Current rules refer to a 70 percent pass rate.